Fitness Now, Test Later

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 24 2014


Our training throughout 99% of the year is built on improving your fitness, not testing it. While we program one rep max attempts and benchmark WODs, those are still built around the idea of improving your fitness as the primary goal.

The upcoming CrossFit Games Open is built around testing your fitness. CrossFit’s definition of fitness is a relative, not an absolute: “Fitness is increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.” Being able to accurately and precisely measure your fitness at a certain time/age versus a past time/age, and being able to measure it relative to other athletes is critical to determining if this shit actually works.

So I encourage everybody to test whether or not they are getting fitter by registering for the Open.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140203]


No Magic Fix

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 23 2014


There’s no magic fix that can get you prepared for the Open between now and February 27th. The Open will be a measure of your fitness and your fitness will be determined by three primary things:

1) How Paleo where you in the last year?
2) How many times did you come to the gym over the last year?
3) How much did you sleep per night?

Now there are a ton of other factors involved here, some you can’t control and some you can. The folks that make the CrossFit Games are amazing athletes and to one degree or another one of the best decisions they made was who their parents are. Genes play a huge part. Other things you can control all factor into the above though. Lots of stress from job/relationship/family/etc? That’s going to affect how you eat, train and sleep. Really like hookers and blow? That’s going to affect how you eat, train and sleep (and probably your job/relationship/family/etc). Bottomline is that this game we call CrossFit should be fun (goddamit!!). So don’t put too much pressure on yourself during the Open. Sign up, try to have fun, see how things shake out.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140128]

Butter, Bone Broth and Bacon

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 22 2014


You might think our dietary choices are out of the ordinary, and they are, but they are catching on. Some of you may have seen the recent articles about the Los Angeles Laker’s diet that mainly consists of butter, bone broth, and bacon (this sounds vaguely familiar to some other diet labels: Starts with “p”, rhymes with “R-aleo”).

The reason the Laker’s focus on these food groups are:
1) Joint health. Bone broth is one of the only sources of glycosaminoglycans. Down the processing chain that happens in the body, this compound creates hyaluronic acid, which is a key part of synovial fluid. This is the “lubricant” in your joints.
2) Energy. Fat is a hormonally neutral source of energy. While carbohydrate raises your blood sugar, which in the absence of protein intake or anaerobic activity can increase body fat stores, fat has no effect on blood sugar but significant effect on satiety (how hungry you are). So you eat fat, you get energy and you don’t feel hungry.
3) Brain function. The brain is the most sensitive organ to swings in blood sugar levels. Your brain can Run on sugar only, but the body can create it’s own form of sugar, known as ketones, from fat. You can read a great deal about ketones and brain function from Dr. Richard Veech, but bottomline: your brain really likes ketones.

For more on the L.A. Lakers diet, click here.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140121]

Cholesterol Explained by Robb Wolf

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 21 2014


I set out to write a unique and interesting blog post today about cholesterol, but once I found Robb Wolf’s post, I gave up. This sums it up too nicely for me to even try to compete. The following is reprinted from Robb Wolf’s blog. You can also tune into his Paleo Solution podcast here and purchase his books and ebooks here. Enjoy!

The basics of the diet-heart hypothesis go like this: High cholesterol leads to atherosclerotic plaques that precipitate a clot which can result in a heart attack or stroke. This whole notion grew from a disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia and subsequent experiments that involved feeding rabbits (herbivores) oxidized cholesterol. These critters do not eat ANY cholesterol so the fact oxidized cholesterol caused problems is not surprising but also completely unhelpful when talking about people.

Anyway, 50 years to failed dietary recommendations to lower cholesterol have done nothing to alleviate the CVD epidemic. In fact, the epidemic is rolling along bigger and badder than ever before. Well This Study was pretty interesting. It indicates that most people who suffer a heart attack have…low cholesterol!

Now, everyone is in a fix to get folks on cholesterol lowering diets and statins to save them, but most heart attacks are in folks with…low cholesterol! Ok, doesn’t make any sense and it completely calls into question the notion that we need to reduce cholesterol levels…but why not give people statins and see how folks do on those. Well, interestingly, statins appear to decrease heart attack rates in people…with low cholesterol.

The mechanism? Possibly a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of systemic inflammation. Know what else reduces systemic inflammation? A paleo diet which controls insulin levels, removes gut irritating foods, balances omega-3/omega-6 fats. Add some vit-d and consistent good sleep and you have effectively turned off the type of inflammation underlying CVD, cancer and neurodegeneration.
Oh! Then there is the fact low cholesterol increases stroke rates!!
So, just to clarify:
1-Cholesterol supposedly causes CVD, But
2-Most heart attacks are actually occurring in people with low cholesterol, Yet
3-Doctors insist on cholesterol lowering protocols, including statins, Even though,
4-The benefit of statins has nothing to do with cholesterol, but rather it’s mild anti-inflammatory action, Which
5-Can be accomplished with simple dietary modifications and a few inexpensive supplements.
It would be funny if people were not dying from this stuff.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140120]


False Heuristics

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 18 2014


“It takes a lot of intellect and confidence to accept that what makes sense doesn’t really make sense.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

I wrote last week about some of the false heuristics (rules of thumb) that “make sense” to people but cause major health issues: saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease; calories in versus calories out; and the fact that CrossFit “looks dangerous.”

It seems that all of us have some innate desire to obey authority (Milgram and Zimbardobeing the most famous academic examples) and to conform to tribal norms (Milgram and Zimbardo again, and everybody since Aristotle). One hopes that we can reason our way out of false heuristics by observing the negative effects of our actions and then make adjustments, but it seems like even both folks that are very sick and folks that aren’t make bad decisions that they know is bad for their health.

I don’t really have a solution to this and I’m not super interested in bringing enlightenment to the world. I guess I’m just wondering if anybody wants to contribute an answer to the question: why do you (or somebody you know) continue to make bad decisions once they’ve been presented with significant data that what they are doing is bad for them?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140114]

Commoditized Ideas

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 17 2014


“Knowledge is subtractive, not additive – what we subtract (reduction by what does not work, what not do to), not what we add (what do do).” -”The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

You can look at this as a mirror image of the health and wellness question in terms of positive empiricism, or searching for data and finding something that supports your model. My second biggest concern in my business is convincing myself that a certain model works and sticking with that model regardless of evidence. Every major post-Descartes philosopher repeatedly cautions against this because it is part of human nature.

Taleb’s has another quote from TBoP, that describes this problem elegantly: “We humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life into commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on occasion, has explosive consequences.”

I see this a lot with the Paleo Diet, the Paleo Challenge, and CrossFit because people generally don’t accept “you should do it because it works.” The major challenges I get are based on “commoditized ideas” about saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease; calories in versus calories out; and “that looks dangerous!”

Those models are all critically flawed, as they put a pattern together in a way that’s comforting to the psyche but wholly inaccurate. And the explosive consequences are evident (at least to those that have changed their thinking and embraced a Paleo/CrossFit methodology): sickness and decrepitude.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140107]

Manipulating Surroundings

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 16 2014


“Unless we manipulate our surroundings, we have as little control over what and whom we think about as we do over the muscles of our hearts.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

This is an important factor in and out of the gym. For folks traying Paleo for the first time, it’s critical. Nobody, contrary to popular opinion, has self control. If you have crack and hookers in your house, you’re probably going to try some crack and hookers.

Same goes for your training, and that starts with having the time to do it: if you’re job or your family is keeping you from training as much as you want, then your options are either demand more time to train or accept that your priorities are job/family and than accept there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you adjust your expectations to your training frequency.

Once you’re in the gym remove distractions. Show up on time, have all the gear you need handy, don’t bring your phone to the training floor with you, pay attention to the athletes around you, and listen to the coach.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140113]

Paleo Works

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 15 2014


The single biggest reason to join the Paleo Challenge is…..completely different for everybody. Some folks want to get #sexyasfuck, some want to live a longer and healthier life, some want to win money, some want to prove me wrong (that Paleo doesn’t work). Whatever the reason, what I’ll guarantee is that you’ll see a significant observable, measurable, and repeatable improvement in how you look, feel and perform by doing the Paleo Challenge.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140106]


Training vs Sport

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 14 2014


Good post here by Chris Spealler, long time CrossFit Games competitor, on training CrossFit as a recreational sport versus training CrossFit as a way to get/stay in shape. There’s also some stuff in there about training CrossFit as a Games competitor.

My guidance for each of these athletes is:

1) The CrossFitter who is just training to get/stay in shape.
a. #justshowup
b. Have fun.
c. Eat Paleo!!!!!
2) If you are training CrossFit with the idea of doing an occasional competition, keep the following in mind:
a. Everything above.
b. Make sure your expectations and reality are in sync. Slow steady progress is doable. Miracles don’t happen overnight.
c. Don’t practice “CrossFit Numerology/Movementology”. I mean don’t obsess about “I have to get a 400 lbs squat…” or “I have to get a Muscle Up.” Working on your weaknesses is good, but you need to be good at everything. Work on your weaknesses, but don’t make yourself crazy.
d. If you have stuff that you know is going to hold you back, show up on the days we have that stuff. If you can’t do that, hit us up for some personal training sessions where we can work on some of your weaknesses specifically by emailing
3) If you are training for the CrossFit Games:
a. You’re not going to make it. Take up watercolor or interpretive dance.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131230]

Stick Around If You’re Happy

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 11 2014


I do a lot of business consults with folks looking to open their first CrossFit gym or expand their current gym to multiple locations, bigger locations, etc. What I try to get across to them is that how they shape their gym is how they will shape their clientele.

When we discuss this, I mean mainly in the selection and retention phase. Each individual gym attracts a certain type of client for a variety of reasons. We’ve tried to select and retain folks that want some the following as their priority:

1) Location
2) Convenience and flexibility
3) Clean and organized
4) Well Run/coached group classes
5) Thoughtful and effective programming

Now if none of these things appeal to you as much as other priorities, you might want to look at some other options. For instance, if you really need accountability and personal attention you might be more comfortable in a personal training setting and you can see our schedule here. If you’re really interested in becoming pursuing CrossFit as a competitive athlete, you can take a look at our competition team here.

People make choices for all kinds of reasons, so maybe none of the above apply to you at all. I’d just say if you’re happy, stick around. If you’re not, try some other stuff.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131217]